Monday, July 7, 2008

Air Supply

Air. It is all around us, it enters us every moment. We hardly ever think about air, unless there is something wrong with it- today is a 'Spare the Air' day because the conditions are correct to let air pollution collect at acutely toxic levels. Even then, we only think about the impact of polluted air on us as individuals. We don't contemplate the air its self. The practice of mindful breathing has us focus on the feeling of breathing, or focusing the breath to parts of the body to achieve different outcomes. It is a wonderful practice that has done me a world of good. So now, with all the mindful breathing I am doing, these days, I am thinking about air.

While meditating the other day, it came to me that the breeze around me is that very thing I am trying to tap into- universal force. It made perfect, total sense. Air is invisible, we only ever 'see' the results of the presence of, or the lack of, it. When on the move, air is a powerful force that can move ships across oceans or blow houses down. Air can fit in any space, no matter the size, and you have to try damn hard to keep it out. We blow it into floaty inner tubes, and hold it when we drive through tunnels. We can't last more than a few minutes without it, and yet we take it for granted to the point of almost never noticing it.

The meditation I was doing was a healing one, of sorts, loosely based on the 'soft belly meditations' of Stephen Levine. I have some quite old, and now degenerating spinal injuries. The injuries themselves can be challenging enough, but over the years, my body has learned to store my stress in those spots, which compounds the issue. As I tried to envision my pain leaving my body with my breath (having wrapped it up with the breath I just took in), it occurred to me, that I was releasing my pain to the wind, the air. That I was allowing the universal presence to take my pain from me. At that moment, I knew that from now on, I would always be able to give my troubles to the wind, to blow them away (assuming I can let them go in the first place, which is why I am trying all of this new stuff).

As I 'gave my pain' to the wind, another thought came to me- I am considered to have 'chronic pain' (I loath the very sound of that!!!). Many, if not most people, who suffer with chronic pain get very little relief from conventional medicine, and usually end up with powerful pain medications that wreak havoc on the body over the long term (I will do anything to never be on any narcotic pain medication). So much of the pain that they feel is tied up with stress and depression. What if that pain that just will not go away is really the pain of the world? Pain from an over burdened Earth, polluted by the billions of people who demand their pound of flesh daily? All of us breathing it in, all of us breathing it out. Constantly recycling all of that energy. In giving my pain to the wind, do I have to make sure I do not contribute any more pain to the world so that the wind will always be able to blow my pain away? In the language of Ekhart Tolle, can I be the space for that pain so that one day, I can be free of it?

Today, as I rode my bicycle home from work, I found myself cycling into the headwind that seems to follow me everywhere. Trying to bike up the hills to my home, bent into the wind and tired, I started to beg the universe for just one block without the heavy resistance. So, of course, I got one doozy of a gust right in the kisser that nearly knocked me of my bike. I realized, I was getting some serious 'emptiness' thrown at me, and I remembered to give my pain, or in this case my fatigue, to the wind. But I also realized, I could breath all of that awesome spirit into myself and get my energy from that- breath in energy, breath out fatigue. Spirit in, spirit out. Universe in, universe out.

I made it all the way home (the last 4 miles of a twenty mile round trip commute) with no need to stop, not out of breath, full of the spirit of the wind. Full of the presence of the universe.

Notice the air. Spare the air. Respect the air.

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